Taking a closer look at the lack of women speaker representation at Web Summit Dublin 2014 and other tech conferences, and what we can do to change this.
Last week, we attended Web Summit Dublin, a technology conference that has grown at a dazzling pace since its inaugural event in 2010. With 20,000 attendees, hundreds of speakers on 13 stages, and media like the CNBC, Financial Times and The Guardian, a gathering like this not only impacts the tech scene in Europe, but around the world.
Of the 120 speakers on the Central Stage, where the main action of the Web Summit took place (and reserved for the biggest leaders in the tech industry), a mere 17 (15%) of the speakers were women. 8 of those 17 were actually journalists, leaving just 9 women viewed as “tech leaders”.
One of the names causing the most buzz at the conference was actress and philanthropist Eva Longoria. Another woman speaker was supermodel Lily Cole. We can’t help but wonder, was the representation of these two more about their good looks or their accomplishments?
We are entirely aware of this issue with tech conferences all over the world, which is the reason DevelopHer and other women in tech organisations exist in the first place. We want to make sure future tech conferences have more of a gender balance in terms of leadership. We want to help organisers find the best women who are more than willing to speak.
We’ve heard all the common excuses as to why there aren’t more women representing at tech conferences. Here are a few:
- We can’t find women who are as credible as other male speakers in terms of contributions to technology
- Many women aren’t interested in speaking because they lack the confidence
- Women who have families at home aren’t available to give their extra time to speaking gigs
- We don’t know where to find these women tech leaders